With rising fuel prices, automakers are in a race to improve fuel efficiency. Different automakers have taken different strategies; some trying to focus on diesel technology, others on hybrids. Mazda doesn’t have a full hybrid system developed in house, and as such, is looking to use a range of other technologies to improve efficiency on internal combustion engines.
SkyActiv, is one of those. In case you’re wondering what exactly SkyActiv is (we never were sure until recently either), it uses direct injection and reduced back pressure to increase compression ratios. Mazda will offer four-cylinder engines with up to 14:0:1 (in Europe) and 13:1. The Ferrari 458 Italia, for instance, has a compression ratio of 12:5:1. This will help Mazda boost its figures all across the lineup, especially when paired with weight reduction and more efficient automatics. But enough with SkyActiv, Mazda is unveiling the next step in its efficiency drive.
It is dubbed i-ELOOP, which is a lot less catchy than SkyActiv. While hybrids use regenerative braking, the technology hasn’t been used in regular production cars for the most part due to unnecessary complication. Mazda has what the company says is the world’s first system to use a capacitor to store energy. Capacitors charge and discharge quickly, and are able to store a lot of energy.
As the car decelerates, energy from the capacitor is used to recharge the car’s battery, power the audio system, HVAC and other electrical components as it decelerates. Using a capacitor eliminates the need for expensive batteries. Before electricity is supplied to the car, a DC/DC converter steps down the electricity’s current to 12 volts, from 25.
In town driving is where mileage suffers, and that is where i-ELOOP shines; efficiency is improved 10 percent in stop-and-go driving. Mazda will offer i-ELOOP in production cars starting next year. It’s good to see technologies like this coming out from Mazda that aim to refine the internal combustion engine. It has a lot of life left in it.